Japan and the International Olympic Committee postponed the 2020 Summer Olympics, scheduled to begin July 24 in Tokyo.
Reacting to growing resistance during the coronavirus pandemic and the call from individuals and nations for the Games to be suspended, officials announced Tuesday all events would be postponed to a date “no later than” summer 2021.
“The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present,” the IOC said in a statement. “Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan.”
Professional sports in Asia have been on hold for weeks, and North American sports went on pause in the past two weeks as the international health crisis continues to spread.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Tuesday that he and IOC president Thomas Bach reached an agreement to delay the Tokyo Games.
“I proposed to Mr. Bach to postpone the event for a year. He 100 percent agrees with me, and the latest by summer 2021, the Olympics will be held. Symbolize victory over the virus. We will like to fulfill our responsibility,” Abe said. “We have to think about the current outbreak of the coronavirus. Holding the Olympics in 2020 is difficult. We talked about a one-year postponed, and we agreed on the holding of the event in 2021. We are looking to coordinate venues. IOC meeting will be held soon.”
The Olympic torch run scheduled to begin this month had been altered to be carried by car instead of on foot. The flame will remain in Tokyo while planning and logistics for rescheduling the Games takes place.
Bach wrote a letter on Sunday in which he stated the desire to have the timing of the Olympics finalized within four weeks.
That position drew backlash, with Canada announcing it would withdraw from the Games if they were held before next summer. Team USA Swimming and Track & Field earlier had requested to postpone the Olympics.
The Olympics never had been postponed previously.
They were canceled during World War I (1916) and World War II (1940, 1944), but the IOC was clear that is not a consideration at this time.
–Field Level Media